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GSMA decided to drive the RCS initiative to facilitate IMS end-user services deployment. This initiative brings together
operators, handset and network vendors, and aims at specifying the set of basic services (no really value-added services
here) that should be made available in an RCS terminal. One of the RCS goals is to demonstrate one of the most valuable
feature of the IMS architecture: interoperability. Contrary to OTT (Over The Top) players, RCS guarantees services
interoperability between users whatever the terminal they are using or the network operator they have subscribed to.
RCS relies on IMS core network for session control and service establishment, which is based on intrinsic features of SIP
signaling. The key of RCS is the capability discovery framework which allows to identify the RCS services of any users even
in case of multi device usage. Thanks to that, RCS users can be informed in real time of the multimedia communication
capabilities of their contacts.
Capability discovery
The capability discovery feature is key for RCS. It allows to recover capabilities of user’s contacts in term of RCS services.
For that RCS terminal must implement one of the two solutions depicted in the next figure (SIP OPTIONS or presence)
RCS capability discovery mechanisms
RCS services
All RCS services are optional for a service provider to deploy. GSMA has identified and specified the following list of RCS
Enhanced Address Book (EAB): this is an evolution of the usual address book by providing enriched information about the
user’s contacts: communication capabilities, availability and willingness, portrait icon and so on. This address book can be
synchronized with network based storage facilitating then multi device handling. From this address book users can then be
informed about the capability of a contact about a specific RCS service (i.e. social presence information sharing).
Standalone messaging: Includes both text and multimedia messaging services using IMS-based messaging framework
instead of SMS/MMS, removing as a result some of their limitations. The technical realization of this service relies on OMA
SIMPLE IM. For small messages (<1300 bytes) pager mode will be used (SIP MESSAGE). For larger message service will use
MSRP/TCP protocol in the media plan.
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RCS messaging for large message
One-to-One and Group Chat: Chat services between 2 or multiple users. Implemented using the Large Message Mode of
OMA SIMPLE IM based on MSRP sessions.
RCS group chat session
File transfer: This is the ability for users to exchange different types of content. This service can be used coupled with an
ongoing call or not. Based also on MSRP session.
Content Sharing: Through this service users can share videos or pictures during an ongoing call. Initially based on IMS
Combinational Services feature allowing a terminal to set up an IMS session during a Circuit Switched Call. Video sharing
implementation is based on RTP session establishment between the users while image sharing use MSRP instead. The
services are now supported outside the context of an CS ongoing call.
RCS Image Sharing during CS call
Social Presence Information: This is the ability for users to share personal information about their status, geolocation,
services and so on. This information can be updated on real time (VIP contact) or based on a polling mechanism (i.e. each
time we look at the contact in the EAB). Based on OMA SIMPLE presence. Social Presence Information service require
some specific servers like presence server, RLS (Resource List Server) and XDMS (XML Document Management Server).
The last one will be for example used to store authorization rules and buddy lists.
IP Voice Call: This service use Packet Switched Access Network (i.e. LTE, HSPA) to setup usual voice calls instead of the
traditional Circuit Switched Access Network (i.e. GSM). Specified through PRD in GSMA (IR.92 and IR.58) respectively
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covering VoLTE and VoHSPA.
IP Video Call: This service use Packet Switched Access Network (i.e. LTE, HSPA) to setup video calls instead of the
traditional Circuit Switched Access Network (i.e. GSM). Specified through GSMA PRD IR.94.
Note that both IP Voice and Video Calls relies on IMS call control framework for multimedia session establishment.
Geolocation: exists in both push or pull mode and allows user to share their geolocation information. Push mode is realized
using the file transfer service and pull mode require usage of network RESTful ParlayX API
RCS Releases
RCS has been specified through several releases, last one being (at the time of writing) RCS 5.0 which is somehow a
synthesis of previous RCS Release 1-4 and RCS-e 1.2 (RCS enhanced). RCS-e aimed at simplifying RCS deployment since
capacity discovery feature (which is key for RCS) can be implemented using the basic SIP OPTIONS request instead of
being based on OMA SIMPLE presence framework (which requires at least a presence server to be deployed).